The best places for hot chocolate in Glasgow and Edinburgh
The cafes and chocolatiers who serve up the sweet stuff
Hot chocolate is the latest beverage to break free from its powdered past and is now receiving proper treatment. The List sent Jay Thundercliffe and Carine Seitz out in search of the real stuff in Glasgow and Edinburgh
148 Woodside Terrace Lane, Charing Cross, 07886 215209
This tiny café-cum-shop-cum-factory makes for a pilgrimage for hot chocolate lovers. Chocolatier Kirsty Shepheard’s own blend of 70 per cent organic dark chocolate with chilli, lavender or cardamom is melted into steamed milk for a decadent delight. There’s a sweeter milk and dark mix plus a white version, or pray there is some sipping chocolate with a splash of kirsch — like drinking liquid truffles in chocolate heaven.
St Enoch Centre, City Centre, 249 9955. www.ilovekimbles.co.uk
This family-run chocolatiers offers an assortment box of hot chocolate delights at their impressive independent café, shop and deli. The ciocchino — a rich and creamy sipping shot — is an indulgent blend of dark and milk chocolates and cream. Add milk for a clearer conscience or experiment with the range of fruit and nut syrups. Other temptations include chilli and nutmeg varieties, and twiddle sticks for self-melting.
944 Argyle Street, Finnieston, 204 3161. www.coffeechocolateandtea.com
Coffee-supremos and chocolatiers CC&T ain’t too shabby when it comes to hot chocolate as well. They do a big cup of house blend that uses 100 per cent cocoa powder with other secret ingredients to create a deliciously balanced cocoa concoction. If that doesn’t satisfy there are espresso shots of Valrhona’s creamy drinking chocolate, steam-heated for a rich and airy
174 Bruntsfield Place, 228 4526. www.cocochocolate.co.uk
Coco is a purveyor of fine organic chocolate. From their beautiful little shop in Bruntsfield you can choose from an extraordinary selection of different products including a hot chocolate range made with a blend of 64 per cent cocoa mass and a tiny dash of Valrhona cocoa powder to add depth.Their hot chocolate blended with rose oil and black pepper has a very delicate flavour, with hints of Turkish Delight, and is served with a hand-made chocolate on the side.
123 Bruntsfield Place, 228 3144. www.the-chocolate-tree.co.uk
The Chocolate Tree uses organically produced cacao from small plantations. Their single origin Ugandan 80 percent hot chocolate has a deeply seductive, intense flavour which lingers on the palate without tasting too sweet, while their Spanish-style hot chocolate is a vast cup of melted dark chocolate served with a freshly-baked sugared pastry on the side for dipping. Incredibly rich and indulgent, but worth slipping into a sugar-coma for.
Quartermile, 27 Simpson Loan, 228 5876. www.petersyard.com
Those Swedes at Peter’s Yard know a thing or two about baking, and it turns out their expertise stretches to hot chocolate too. Using Valrhona chocolate powder, the drink has a nice intensity of flavour. If you go for the option to add an infusion of cardamom, the aromatic scent mixes beautifully to create an aromatic blend. Also, top marks for presentation for the café’s beautiful latte-art pattern on the surface.
The chocolate pro
Rebecca Knights-Kerswell, owner of Coco Chocolate in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh, explains what proper hot chocolate is all about. And no, she doesn’t mention marshmallows
‘The most important ingredient in drinking chocolate is chocolate! Many brands of mass produced hot chocolate supplement poor quality cocoa with powdered milk, excessive sugar and artificial sweeteners and flavourings, resulting in a drink that tastes sickly and unsatis fyingly bland. However I believe that enjoying a mug of hot chocolate should be a far more sumptuous experience.
‘I use only real chocolate, hand flaking huge blocks of Coco’s handmade organic 64 per cent dark chocolate and adding just a little of the finest quality cocoa powder to bring the cocoa content up to 70 per cent. That’s it: no added sugar and nothing artificial! I prepare it by melting several generous teaspoons in hot milk – or soya milk for my vegan friends – to create a divine velvety drink that’s a rich heady brown and full of flavour.’
Coco Chocolate produces chocolate in its own Edinburgh kitchens, which opens its doors twice a month for a chocolate school.